I'm looking for an alternative to getting a mammogram. My doctor and my cardiologist are no help. Anyone have any suggestions? There must be some other kind of screening available.


don't be afraid!

by bambi - 2007-11-26 07:11:37

I don't know if there is an alternative to a mammogram, but if you are dealing with having your first since your implant, you may be feeling nervous about possible discomfort . I know I was! If you tell the technicians that you have a pacemaker, they are usually very careful and gentle, and will check in with you during the entire process. I was relieved to find out the pacemaker did not make the test any more painful or uncomfortable than it usually is! Good luck to you!

had the same feelings

by searchingwoman - 2007-11-26 08:11:19

It is very normal to have those feelings the first few times you have a mammogram. I always tell my tech that I have a pacemaker. You could call ahead and explain your fears and concerns. Don't be afraid to request a tech who will take their time and work with you. I have never had any problems so far. Good luck...I'm sure that you will be fine.


by SMITTY - 2007-11-26 10:11:27

Hi May,

This is a little out of my line but I have been reading a lot about CT Scans lately on what they can and cannot do. My intense interest in CT Scans is because one has shown that my wife may have pancreatic cancer. When reading your question, I recalled Reading the following. Like most women, my wife also hates a mammogram with a passion.

CT Being Tested to Detect Breast Cancer Earlier
About 190 women are being enrolled in a clinical trial to see if computed tomography (CT) can detect breast cancer earlier, and with less discomfort, than standard mammography.

Researchers have built a prototype CT scanner for breast imaging that takes 300 sectional X-ray images through the breast. These are assembled into a single, three-dimensional composite picture that provides a clearer view through all tissues of the breast than is possible with conventional mammography, which takes two X-ray images from two vantage points.

"It's the difference between taking a picture of a crowd from across the street, versus circling the crowd and shooting hundreds of separate photos along the way, each photo only two or three people deep," said John Boone, Ph.D., professor of radiology and biomedical engineering at the University of California, Davis. "Your chances of finding a particular person in the crowd are going to be a lot better with more photos."

With CT, it may be possible to detect tumors about 5 millimeters across, about the size of a garden pea and less than half of the diameter of malignancies that generally show up in standard mammograms, said Boone, who presented preliminary results at a recent meeting of the Radiological Society of North America.

"The earlier and smaller a cancer is when it is detected, the less the chance that it has spread to the lymph nodes, lungs or bones, and the greater the chance for a permanent cure and for breast preservation," said Lydia Howell, professor of pathology at UC Davis and a volunteer in early testing of the CT scanner.

In addition to its improved accuracy, the CT scan does not require breast compression between two plates, as does mammography. Instead, the patient lies face down on a padded table that has a circular opening through which the patient places one breast at a time. A revolving X-ray CT scanner under the table takes about 17 seconds to image each breast.

"There was no discomfort," Howell said.

In the 1970s, CT was considered as a possible screening method for breast cancer, but physicians thought at the time that it would expose patients to too much radiation. CT is routinely used to image the brain, lungs, abdomen and pelvis.

Boone and his colleagues revisited the issue and discovered that earlier estimates of radiation exposure assumed the breast and entire chest would be subjected to X rays from standard CT machines. When Boone recalculated the exposure rates based on imaging the breasts alone, the radiation dosage was no more than that of a standard mammogram.

Several research groups around the country are also working to develop breast CT scanners. But the approach is still experimental and women should continue to rely on mammograms as recommended by their physicians, Boone said.

"Even if our best hopes are realized, breast CT will not be commercially available for at least five years, and probably longer," said Karen Lindfors, a UC Davis radiologist and collaborator with Boone in developing the scanner. "Don't put off getting mammograms, because it will take some time to develop this newer technology."

Other collaborators on the project include UC Davis medical physicist Anthony Seibert and UC San Diego radiology professor Thomas Nelson. The group designed the new scanner, which sits under an examination table and rotates on a gantry parallel to the table. Boone believes it may be possible to reduce the current image acquisition time of 17 seconds per breast to as little as 8.3 seconds.

The detector was built with the goal of cancer screening, diagnosis, and image-guided therapy. A subgroup of women is of special interest: those with dense breasts, implants, and heightened risk for the disease. Early testing of the prototype showed that there is room for improvement in its contrast resolution, suggesting that future machines might be even more accurate than the original one.

The clinical trial is being conducted at the UC Davis Medical Center.

Good luck,



by Suze - 2007-11-27 06:11:57

You didn't mention why you don't want a mammogram. I had my first one last month (I mean the first one post PM implant) and it was very easy. The tech was very careful and understanding regarding my concern. I worried for no reason, I'm happy to report.

Anyway, I hope it all works out for you..



by luckyloo - 2007-11-27 07:11:01

a CT scan will not help because your device will show "noise" on the images where your device is. your device is metal. i've had scans and there are streaks going across my body where the device is. i am a former CT tech so i do know about this. on a normal person without a device CT would be fine...except it is a lot of radiation. i used to scan breast implants for silicone leakages.

an ultrasound would be the only other test. MRI is out due to your device.

take care,

Alternative to Mammogram

by winelover - 2007-11-27 12:11:10

There is another test that uses infrared imaging called Breast Thermography, but if it can be done on a person with a pacemaker, I don't know. Worth to check out since it supposedly can detect lumps earlier than a mammogram.


by hooimom - 2007-11-27 12:11:52

I had a lump that showed up on a mammogram two years ago and the doctor called me in for a sonogram. I don't know how expensive it would be or if insurance would cover it but they might be able to do a sonogram/ultrasound of the breast tissue. Smitty's information about the CT scan sounds like a perfect solution for you.

If you are worried about the mammogram because of your device, it really wasn't so bad. Like Bambi and Searchingwoman, I just spoke up about my PM and shared that I was a bit concerned and the tech was wonderful. She asked me frequently if I was comfortable and told me to speak up if there was any discomfort at all. I have found that most people (medical, airports, etc.) bend over backwards to help ease any concerns I may have if I speak up.

Keep asking until you find some screening you are okay with but make sure you get checked out.



by maryogg - 2007-11-29 07:11:09

The idea of something happening to the device or the wires is what terrifies me.
I wasn't diagnosed with a heart problem and advised that the solution would be to implant a pacemaker in a couple of months. I had a terrifying experience and "died" at least twice. I had no warning and the doctors don't know why it happened.
I've been very good about scheduling my mammograms and have had many of them. Yes, they are uncomfortable, but it only lasts a little while and it is over. It's not the mammogram I'm afraid of--I'm afraid if one of the wires is loosened, I will die.

You know you're wired when...

You have a little piece of high-tech in your chest.

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